Jun 4, 2015 by Sci-News.com
A group of scientists led by Prof Marcio Pie of the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Brazil has described seven new species of the frog genus Brachycephalus from the mountainous areas of the southern Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest.
Brachycephalus sp. from the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Image credit: Luiz Fernando Ribeiro / CC BY SA.
Brachycephalus is a fascinating frog genus endemic to the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest. These frogs are well-known for their strong endemism, particularly in cloud forests.
The first species of the genus was discovered in 1842 by the German scientist Johann Baptist von Spix, yet most species have been discovered only in the past ten years, particularly due to their highly endemic nature.
Several Brachycephalus species display conspicuous coloration patterns that are associated with the presence of tetrodotoxin and its analogues, which are highly potent neurotoxins.
These frogs are among the smallest terrestrial vertebrates, with adult sizes often not exceeding 10 mm in length.
The seven new species – Brachycephalus mariaeterezae, B. olivaceus, B. auroguttatus, B. verrucosus, B. fuscolineatus, B. leopardus and B. boticario – are about 10 to 13 mm in body length.
Brachycephalus mariaeterezae in life. Image credit: Ribeiro LF et al.
“This is only the beginning, especially given the fact that we have already found additional species that we are in the process of formally describing,” said Dr Luiz Ribeiro of the Mater Natura Institute for Environmental Studies, who is the first author of a paper published in the journal PeerJ.
Each new species is remarkably endemic, being restricted to cloud forests in one or a few adjacent mountaintops in the Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest.
A major concern regarding the new species is that the same factors that led to their endemism might also be a ticket to their extinction.
Cloud forests are highly sensitive to climatic changes, and the long-term preservation of these species might involve not only the protection of their habitats but also more direct management efforts, such as rearing in captivity.
Ribeiro LF et al. 2015. Seven new microendemic species of Brachycephalus (Anura: Brachycephalidae) from southern Brazil. PeerJ 3: e1011; doi: 10.7717/peerj.1011
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